Monday, May 25, 2015

Strawberries!

So over this lovely Memorial Day weekend, we took a family outing up north to Blue Ridge, GA where they have a place called Mercier Orchards. Ben's family had told us about it, it's a u-pick farm with a really cool shop and delicious pastries.

We love going to u-pick places! You can't ever beat the taste of fruits and veggies that are freshly picked. And usually, you can't beat the price either! We paid $10 a ticket for Ben and I (Ellie and Aiden were free!) we definitely got our money's worth of strawberries! They gave Ben and I each a gallon bucket, and the kids got their own smaller containers and they encouraged you to overfill your buckets to heaping and to eat as many as you wanted in the fields. When we got home, I counted the strawberries as I prepared them for freezing (yay for strawberry smoothies and popsicles all summer!) and there were just shy of 500 berries. That doesn't count what we ate in the field as we were picking or what everyone snacked on when we got home before I counted, meaning we had at least 600 berries for $20! That comes out to about 30 strawberries per dollar. Score! In the store for $2, you get one package which is what, maybe 25 berries? So 60 fresh picked in place of 25 store bought? I'll take it! Plus, it's now a priceless memory :)

It was a great experience. We browsed around the shop for a while and then took a tractor ride out to the berry fields. They had two kinds, Camarosa and Chandler. They said the Chandlers were sweeter and better for eating, but didn't last as long and the Camarosas were better for cooking and tended to last longer. We picked a bucket of each. Ellie really liked the sweeter ones better. Aiden downed mostly the other ones, probably because that's the first side we picked on. He was totally hilarious. He just plopped down in the middle of a row, and sat there and ate. He did that the whole time we were picking! Every time we'd look over to check on him, he was always just sitting in the same spot eating! We figure he probably ate 30 berries. His little strawberry covered mug was hilarious. Beside having it all over his face, his hands were solid red, and his legs and arms were covered in juice :) Good thing we're not afraid of a huge mess! And good thing I took a lot of wet wipes! The little man was in heaven. Ellie had a lot of fun too, she was so cute wandering around with her little basket. Later that night as we were putting her to bed we had asked her what her favorite part of the day was. She said "The tractor ride". I asked her if she liked picking the berries she said "Yep. Picking yummy strawberries was so hard." Silly.

After picking, we went back to the store to get some pastries and some fresh strawberry ice cream, and we ate the picnic lunch we had take with us. What a delightful day!

Such a picturesque little place. Actually, not that little. The place is 400 acres!


See that apple poster? In the fall they have 52 varieties of apples. We're definitely going to have to come back. 


Ellie and Aiden liked driving the tractor. 

Ellie is a bit of a wild driver.



MMMM, MMMM! Best strawberries I've ever had. 





The feasting begins. 


I know there are more under there!








Just sitting and chowing. He stayed in this one spot for a long time just enjoying berry after berry. 



Transfering the goods to Aiden's basket so she could start over.




Picking out pastries. We ended up with a fried apple pie (recommendation from Ben's mom), a cinnamon roll (Ellie's choice) and an apple fritter. 



I also have to include these pictures of Ben when he went strawberry picking as a little boy in Georgia. We were going to try and duplicate these pictures (stand in the same spots, make the same faces, etc) but we totally forgot.


(He's the one in the middle)





Sunday, May 17, 2015

All The Raindrops

If all the raindrops were lemondrops and gumdrops, oh what a rain it would be!
Even without the lemondrops and gumdrops though, it was quite a rain.
I love southern thunderstorms.
Truly, they're wonderful. Nothing beats that deep rumble.

I couldn't resist taking Ellie out to play in it.


She really enjoyed floating rose petals down the gutter. 








At one point, she just looked at the camera and made the silliest face. What a goofball!

Jump and....

Splash! 


Puddle jumping is simply delightful :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Amicalola Falls State Park

Weekends are great. I love weekends, and I love using the weekends to go on family adventures! This past weekend, we went on our first family adventure since coming to Georgia. We drove about an hour and a half north into the southern Appalachians to a place called Amicalola Falls State Park. Man, what a beautiful place! Hard to describe, or even show in pictures how truly beautiful it was.

We started out with a 1 mile hike. The trail was semi-paved so we were able to take a stroller. It was pretty much all uphill, so it was a little tough. Ben pushed the stroller up, and I helped Ellie. She did pretty good for how steep it was! She would walk a ways on her own, then I'd carry her. This pattern continued until we got to the stairs. Near the end of the end of the trail there's a giant staircase (175 stairs) up to the falls. She did the whole thing by herself, little trooper! I kept checking on her and asking her how she was doing and she just said "good" and kept plowing upwards. I was so proud :) The stairs were even see through and we got pretty high but she didn't get nervous at all...she just kept going! The view from the top was remarkable. The entire hike was pretty wonderful. The weather was perfect (a comfortably warm day, with nice breeze and shade the entire hike) and the surroundings were unbeatable.




Amicalola Falls is the tallest waterfall in Georgia. It falls 729 feet. 
Ellie liked dropping leaves through the grate. 


Aiden just stood there the whole time saying "wawa, wawa" (water) and trying to reach the water through the railing. 


This little man just LOVES water. 

Trying to climb through to get to the water. 








After that first hike, we went to the visitors center. We bought a magnet, a postcard, and a candy cane stick for the kids. They also had a little area of glass caged reptiles, so Ellie and Aiden liked that. One of the snake handlers was there, so he had a snake out and both kids touched it. Also, as we were buying our things, the lady helping us let us know there would be a bird show up at their lodge in a few hours. She said that they had the birds there at the visitors center getting ready to take them up to the lodge, and they were going to get them out in a few minutes. We hung around and sure enough, we got to see a few cool birds.



Getting a squished penny was always one of my favorite things to do when we went on trips growing up. 

The birds they had were all ones that were badly injured and brought in to rehabilitate. The ones they use for the shows are the ones they are unable to release back into the wild. This one is an eastern screech owl named Gizmo. 

And this one is a red-tailed hawk. She was rehabilitated on a farm, and now instead of making hawk noises, she makes duck and chicken noises. They tried four different times to release her back in the wild, but they couldn't because the native birds picked on her for the funny sounds she made. 
Random fact we learned: hawk sounds are used in lots of movies for things like dinosaur noises. A lot of the dinosaur noises in Jurassic Park, for instance, are actually hawks. 


We wanted to do just a little something else before we went home, so we had heard that there was a really great, short, rubberized trail that led to the falls from a different area, so we headed for that. That gave us the chance to enjoy one more beautiful hike before we left, plus we got to see the falls again. Can't go wrong with that! It was more of a stroll than a hike, but it was definitely beautiful. There was a couple we aked to take a picture for us, then we took one for them. We kept seeing them on the trail on the way back, and near the end of the trail, they asked us to take a picture one more time. She was crying, and she said "He just proposed and I want a picture!!" Haha, I thought that was kind of funny  :) He said he had planned to propose at the falls, but with the bridge being grated, he was worried the ring might fall through. 

Anyway, it was a beautiful day spent enjoying nature and the beauty of the earth. 
Glad we got the chance to go :)